Thursday, September 23, 2004

"Show-Me" the Homophobia

What do gospel music, aluminum buildings, and men in drag have in common? They all seem to be necessary ingredients for any theatrical production in Branson, MO. How would I know? My partner John and I have been meeting my parents there each fall for the past four years.

You may think I'm kidding about the man in drag thing, but I'm not. And the observation supports my theory that all men dress as a woman at least once in their lives. You might also think that a gay art historian would have sense enough not to vacation in what John describes as the Southern Baptist Las Vegas of the Ozarks. Well, you would have been wrong until August of this year, when Missouri clamped a constitutional tire boot to the rights of same-sex couples and their families.

In "pro-family" Missouri, no matter how many years a gay couple is committed to one another or how many kids they have to care for, they will always have to work harder and longer to support their families, and they will never have the full protections that encourage stable family environments. If Missourians gets any more "pro-family," they'll be sending gay folks and their kids to the back of the motorcoach bus. It is sad, but a state I once loved to visit for all of its campy, quirky Ozark charm now has earned the nickname the Hate State .

My mom was dissappointed when I told her that as a result of the vote we would have to cancel our trip to meet them, since we wouldn't spend another penny in Missouri (and in the past we had spent quite a few--great outlet malls). She tried to convince me that our trip would support "all of those gay boys" who sing and dance in the shows. I think I'd rather support them by providing them a place to stay while they look for jobs in a state that isn't so thrilled about squashing their civil rights.

My parents were sad that we wouldn't be going to Branson with them. But I think they got our point. They were standing in line at a restaurant in Little Rock last week talking to the people in front of them (It always annoys John that Southerners tend to talk to people that they've never met like they are at a Sunday night social).

Anyway, Mom found out that the couple was from Branson. She said that she wouldn't be surprised to meet someone from LR in Branson, but wondered why they would come to LR. The man mentioned that there was some "gay event" going on and they wanted to get out of town. My mom said, "Well I don't know why any gay person would want to go there after the vote you all just took." She said the conversation pretty much ended there.


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